My wife and I have a question about Jamaica. We will be taking our first cruise in May 2003. We have never been anywhere in the Caribbean. We were reading the posts about "least favorite islands" and couldn't help but notice how many of you disliked Jamaica. Since Ocho Rios is a scheduled stop, we are a little concerned. We can deal with rude or unfriendly, but a number of people stated that they did not feel safe. I do not want us to feel threatened or nervous about a trip we have waited several years to take. Can anyone tell us what to expect or offer some advice? Thanks in advance
I have been to Jamaica several times - both on a cruise and for a week on vacation at various Sandals resorts. I have never felt unsafe, but then again I don't go out by myself at night and I stay away from dark alleys. I have never felt unsafe with my husband. I actually find the Jamaicans very friendly. When we first went to the island I had read similar posts and had the same concerns as you. But, I have not found them personally true. You do have to remember though that Jamaica is a 3rd world country. Ocho Rios has a lot offer - Dunns River falls, etc. and I would not miss it. The water there is crystal blue! Enjoy!
We had a stop recently in Montego Bay. We were warned on the ship to stay on a tour and did. However, the last stop of the snorkling tour was Margaritaville and we didn't want to leave when our boat did. We stayed, and because we were warned not to take a taxi, agreed to take the safer shuttle back to the ship. In Margaritaville there are signs posted above the door to not go outside unless you have the door man with you and he will find you a taxi or shuttle. That made me nervous, but it worked out fine. We met a few employees who "had a friend" who could get us back to the ship 'cheap". No thanks. I felt unsafe in Jamaica, even in the shuttle. Maybe I'm a little paranoid. We met friends on the ship that went against advice and went into town on their own. One of the gentlemen is a big pro football player type with a pretty intimidating size. They told us they were scared to death in town. One Jamaican closed in from the back and one from the front while they were walking. He did a quick detour into a shop and bought a machetti. The Jamaicans left them alone after that. Personally, although the snorkling is beautiful I will never go to Jamaica again. I know other people have had a wonderful time, but I was honestly scared there, and I thought it was filthy.
We spent 10 days in Jamaica October 2001. Although the venders are rather aggressive to push their goods, they are a sweet people, and truly have little desire to "hurt" a tourist. If you find them too pushy, simply roll your hand into a ball, offer your knunkles to "tap" the Jamaican's hand (which would also be rolled to receive your "tap") and say "Respect, Mon." This is the islander's way of knowing that you do NOT wish to deal with them, yet respect their right to try to sell you something.
IMPORTANT: you are visiting THEIR land, and the most disresectful thing a tourist can do to a Jamaican is to AVOID looking into their eyes. They are a sweet and generous people, and giving them eye contact, with a polite "no thank you" and the hand tap that I mentioned, is a gentle way to show kindness back to them without buying something.
Ocho Rios is rather hectic, and the ship ports right in the busy area of the city. Jamaica is "dangerous" only in the sense that one needs to be cautious about your monies/personal property. They will not hurt someone, just take your valuables. Stay in the well traveled areas, DURING DAYLIGHT, and you will be fine.
While rich in fish and fruit for food, Jamaica is a very poor nation, with a cost of living above that of the U.S., and wages are low. The many source of revenue is tourism.
I started the post "LEAST favorite island" and, as I said in a later
reply - I am truly amazed that so many people trashed Jamaica. It is one of my favorites and I will continue to take my friends there as often as possible. (We LOVE the sleepy town of Negril, on the west coast, at Seven-Mile beach)
I am not a particularly paranoid person, but I'm not stupid either. There are areas of my own town in central Florida where I would not frequent, as common sense dictates that I may be setting myself up as a target in certain areas. Jamaica is no different. I don't walk around off the beaten path in Montego Bay or Kingston, nor would I venture into certain areas of Orlando outside Disney World for that matter.
Don't miss Jamaica!
We loved our stop in Ocho Rios. We went on our own by taxi to the Sandals Dunns River Resort in Ocho Rios on a half day pass. This was good from 10am until 6pm and included use of the resort, beach, pools with swim up bars, hot tubs, hobie cats, waterskiing, snorkeling, food, drinks, volleyball and poolside games all for $45.00 a person. It was a great way to spend the day in Ocho Rios and not be hassled. We would definately do this again. The taxi ride there round trip was $40.00. There were 4 of us so we split it.
We were in Jamaica for only about five days. Twice we saw groups of people lined up on the wall of a building, with their hands against the wall, with a police officer holding a gun to their backs. We also were cheated by taxi drivers and the maid at the villa we rented.
Jamaica, in my opinion, is beautiful but less than safe. Many of the people are nice but many others are down right rude.There are a lot of people that try, in little ways, to "rip you off." I will NEVER go back, unless it is the starting point for a cruise going somewhere else, or maybe at an all-inclusive resort like Sandals. (That is very unlikely.)
I have been a tour bus operator in Ocho Rios for the past 10 years and I know all the good and bad things that go on in Jamaica. When you arrive here you will find out that Jamaicans are usually very friendly people, majority of which are poor so in most cases you may encounter persons just trying to sell you a souviner or something that they think you would like to take back home. Some are a bit persistent I would admit, however an accertive NO will do the trick in making your intentions clear if you do not want to buy anything and recently there have been more steps by the police to ensure your safety. The government has realised the bad publicity that the sector has been getting so you will see them around on patrol they are also there to answer any questions you might have. When you arrive at Ocho Rios you should try climbing the Dunn's River falls and do some shopping in the many duty free shopping centres